Launch of Russian spacecraft cancelled at last minute

Launch of Russian spacecraft cancelled at last minute


Launch of Russian spacecraft cancelled at last minute

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – The launch of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which was meant to carry Russian and Belarusian cosmonauts and an American astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS), was cancelled at the last minute on Thursday.

"Launch!" mission control said as the rocket was shown at its launch site at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with its main supports shown moving away.

Then the words "automatic cancellation of the launch" came over the live stream.

Those presenting the live stream for Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said: "Unfortunately friends, a command has been sounded to cancel the launch."

"Today’s Soyuz launch was aborted at the 20-second mark. The spacecraft and crew remain safe," US space agency NASA said. The next opportunity to launch is Saturday, it added.

No reason for the aborted launch was immediately given.

It had been scheduled to take place at 1321 GMT and dock with the ISS a few hours later.

The crew, including NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and Marina Vasilevskaya of Belarus, was shown in the rocket just before the cancellation.

Novitsky and Vasilevskaya had been due to stay just 12 days on the ISS and to give a ride home to Loral O’Hara on April 2, according to NASA.

Dyson was due to spend six months aboard the ISS doing experiments on technology that would help humans prepare for future space missions, NASA said.